Fremantle City Tourist Walk
Start - Queensgate Car Park - Henderson St, Fremantle
Distance - 5km (Loop)
Best Time - Weekends
Places of Interest
Fishing Boat Harbour
Downloadable Map (PDF)
Online Map (Google Maps Overlay)
Fremantle is one of the oldest cities in Australia and its rich history means there are plenty of interesting things to do and see. Whether you after a delicious bite to eat, a great coffee, local arts & crafts or just like wondering around fascinating old buildings then Fremantle is for you. It may not be a large urban centre but what it lacks in size it certainly makes up for with an abundance of character, charm and culture. So if you are from out of town and looking for something to do or live in Perth and haven't discovered what Fremantle has to offer then grab your walking shoes and head into the centre of Fremantle for a lazy morning or afternoon.
The starting point I have chosen is the brightly coloured multi-storey Queensgate car park located right next to the Fremantle Markets. At the time it was painted it was the largest public artwork in the Southern Hemisphere. Parking is free for the first hour and charged at a very cheap rate after that (compared to Perth rates).
Once you have parked make your way to the southern exit (closest to the markets). Make your way down William St and make a right turn at the Fremantle Public Library. Keep going until you reach MANY 6160. This used to be the Myer building but since Myer left the bottom floor has been converted to an open retail space for independant stalls. This arrangement is only temporary until work begins on the Kings Square Redevelopment. Within the current version of Kings Sqaure is the beautiful old St John's Anglican Church and the Fremantle City Council building.
Head towards to Fremantle City Council building and continue through the High St Mall. Once you have perused through the speciality stores in the mall cross Market St and continue walking west on High St. The National Hotel on the corner of High St & Market St was recently been restored to its former glory and is well worth checking out if you are after a bite to eat or a sneaky beverage or two.
High St is a perfect blend of old Fremantle with the new age vibe that is now associated with the port city. In old colonial facade limestone buildings is housed a collection of galleries, bookstores, backpackers, cafes and fashion boutiques. As you walk further down High St some of the buildings are owned by Notre Dame University and have been converted to lecture halls or tutorial classrooms.
At the end of High St is one of the most recognisable buildings in Fremantle, The Round House. I won't tell you too much about this place as there are plenty of information boards around the area to tell you the rich history of the area. Cross the disused railway and climb up the stairs to where The Round House gazes out over the Indian Ocean. The whole area has been redeveloped into an arts hub with many of the surrounding buildings housing galleries and art displays. The Round House itself is set above the limestone cliffs and offers views over the Indian Ocean, Bathers Beach and Fishing Boat Harbour. This is one of many great spots to watch the famous West Australian sunset.
Once you have soaked in the history and the views head back down the stairs you came up and walk south until you reach the Whalers Tunnel. Again there are info boards telling you the history so I won't spoil it but the tunnel itself is carved out of the limestone and takes you on to Bathers Beach, a sandy white enclave perfect for a sunbake or a picnic of fish and chips (Sweetlips will sort you out for that). If the beach isn't your thing then the new boardwalk area at Bathers Beach will not disappoint. The recent work to expand the boardwalk area and make it more inviting as a public space has transformed the area from what it used to be. Those of an older vintage will remember the McDonalds that used to reside here and how closed off the area was. There is plenty for the kids to do here and another great spot to enjoy the sunset with a beverage in hand if you visit Bathers Beach House.
Head south and cross the road where you will find one of the most popular places in Fremantle, Fishing Boat Harbour. Home to the still working fishing boats and great fish & chips from Ciccerellos, Kailis Fish Market Cafe & Joe's Fish Shack. A family favourite, there is nothing better than a sunny afternoon eating fish & chips and watching the world go by.
When you have enjoyed walking the old wooden boardwalks or a spot of lunch head then head towards the large silver towers that make their home at Little Creatures Brewery. Little Creatures has expanded over the last decade to become a decent sized brewery and a great bar/restuarant. The outside deck now has great views over the harbour and is a fantastic place to have a few drinks or dinner with friends.
Cross the railway once again into the expanse of The Esplanade Park. This public space is home to some massive pine trees, many sets of play equipment and a ferris wheel that has made Fremantle its home for a couple of years now. If you pick the right weekend the place gets transformed to accommodate one of the many festivals that Fremantle hosts. Click here for a guide to what's coming up soon.
The walk continues east and exits the park in front of The Esplanade Hotel and along Essex St. A short tree lined road, Essex St is home to a pool hall, independent cinema, wine bar and cafes. At the end of Essex St take a left on South Tce and you are on the beating heart of Fremantle - the Cappuccino Strip.
A great combination of food, drink, people and good times, the Cappuccino Strip has plenty of eating options after a long walk. Italian is well covered, Mexican is getting more popular, Indian if your taste buds prefer some spice or perhaps a kebab or two (especially tasty after a big night out at Metropolis). It may only be a short strip of road but there is so much energy packed into it that it seems much bigger than it actually is.
Once you have experienced the Cappuccino Strip head back towards Essex St and you will find another jewel of Fremantle, the Fremantle Markets. A variety of stalls selling anything from candles to coffee to clothes are housed in this old shed. Out the back there are food stalls offering paella, dark chocolate donuts (my girlfriends favourite), bratwurst or cupcakes. Further on is the best reason to make this a weekly visit, the fresh food stalls. We have our favourite vendor but they all have much better produce than Woolies or Coles and at a better price. Along the side there are a few bakeries, health food suppliers (grab a bag of dried sweet potato) and international food stalls.
Once you have grabbed your fruit and vegies for the week exit past the massage vendor and out towards the giant Numbat painted on the wall opposite the markets. If you are still hungry then visit Old Shanghai, a food court specialising in Asian cuisine. Off to your right is the Queensgate Car Park and the finish of the walk. If you have time the now vacant Fremantle Prison is a short walk from Queensgate and I highly recommend the daily tours they offer. If you are game then the night tour is a great way to spend an evening before having dinner in Fremantle.
Final Thoughts - I love Fremantle, the places, the people, the food and I love nothing more than spending an afternoon just meandering around enjoying the atmosphere. If you are visiting Perth or haven't been there in a while then get in the car or train and make a day of it. Getting people back into Fremantle is essential for keeping the place alive and you won't regret the experience.
Make sure to let me know how your visit was and tag any pictures you post on Instagram with #thelifeofpy
Get out there and experience it!!